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Ramsey County Board members discuss new security plan for Minnesota State Fair

Board members shared their concerns and frustrations after being presented with a new security plan just two months before the fair.

SAINT PAUL, Minn. — Some big security changes at the state fair this year.

After the old state fair police chief retired, fair organizers are looking to the Ramsey County Sheriff's Office to take over.

"The plan that we have does not impact any of our services,” Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher said during a county board meeting Tuesday afternoon.

The Ramsey County Board met on Tuesday to discuss the idea.

Sheriff Fletcher says the idea is to have his agency take over security at the fair and to manage officers and deputies from other outside agencies.

Fletcher says it will take 200 officers a day to police the fair.

He is willing to contribute 50 deputies to the cause and he says the State Patrol should be able to contribute 30 troopers a day to police the streets just outside the state fair grounds.

He says the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office is also willing to contribute 20 deputies to the cause.

The remaining officers/deputies will come from other outside agencies.

Fletcher says those officers/deputies will all report to his office directly.

Board members were happy to hear that the numbers all add up, but Commissioner Jim McDonough was worried that this plan could put a big strain on deputies who are already responsible for other crucial emergency services.

“There is a big impact here with the sheriff’s office,” McDonough explains.

“This burden shouldn’t just fall on one agency, and one county.”

Commissioner Mary Jo McGuire also argued that the Minnesota State Fair is after all a ‘state’ fair, and that security should be managed by the State of Minnesota.

“They are more equipped to do this,” McGuire says.

“I can’t imagine that our deputies have the time and scheduling to do this.”

Commissioner McDonough agreed.

"To put that liability, to put that impact on one department, in one operation here, just really seems unreasonable."

Some commissioners were also upset that they're just now hearing about this problem with the fair only two months away, and that they're being forced into a difficult decision.

"I know that people will try to paint it as a Ramsey County board is trying to stop the fair. It simply isn't true, but we do have a responsibility to every taxpayer, to every person that comes into Ramsey County, that we're doing what is best for this county,” Commissioner Victoria Reinhardt says.

The county board did not make any final decisions.

Board members say the workshop Tuesday afternoon was all about raising their concerns and voicing their questions to Minnesota State Fair organizers and the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office.

Both entities will have a few days to gather that information for the board so members can take a vote later this summer.

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